Luke 24: 36-39 Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, “Peace to you.” 37 But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit. 38 And He said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.”
This past week I came to the realization that we often overlook the Heavenly connections in our real world; they pass us by and we don’t even know. Too often we are too busy to take the time to reflect on the moment.
“Oh, worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness! Tremble before Him, all the earth.” – Psalm 96:9
Take for example the time of evening when the world around us prepares for dusk; birds calling to one another as the night owls prepare their flights, the choruses of frogs in the nearby ponds begin their chants and the occasional cry of the foreboding call of the coyote. The sky transitioning from the day to night, when the low hanging sun causes the horizon to be painted in hues no earthly artist could conceive. Beauty so overwhelming in every sensation that too try to recreate it would be utterly impossible; and we don’t even know.
It was during the funeral of Ms. Frankie Harris on Tuesday that I became overwhelmed with the idea which I speak to you about; how things happen and we don’t even know.
A couple years ago, before John Harris passed, I would go over to the Harris house and help sit with Ms. Frankie. She was suffering from the advance stages of Alzheimer and would require someone to be with her 24×7. So, members of our church would go and sit with her while members of her family would take her husband John to the hospital for treatments. It was during this time that I found out Ms. Frankie loved to sing. When I would come for my visits, I would bring my guitar and we would spend my time with her singing old hymns, one after another. Boy how the time would fly. I would need my song book to read from but I found Ms. Frankie was singing her songs from memory. It was then that I realized something special was happening with the music. It was an avenue for her to step back in time and recall memory that was otherwise blocked by her illness. It was then that I realized our connection through music was Heaven sent.
Sometime after John passed, we would still find time to get together to sing on odd occasions. So it was one Sunday that I asked Ms. Frankie if she would do me the honor of singing one of my mother’s favorite songs, “In the Garden”. Ms. Frankie responded happily, “I’d Love to”. So Ms. Frankie, her son Jody, who helped her out on the occasional memory lapse and myself sat up in front of the congregation and did our best rendition of, “In the Garden.” We used it for the special song that day and unbeknownst to me, Denise filmed it on her phone. What started out to be us simply having some fun honoring God, turned out to be a legacy of Ms. Frankie. They played the video during her funeral this past Tuesday and I can’t be sure but I doubt there was a dry eye in the house. Personally I couldn’t watch; the tears were streaming from my eyes so much I couldn’t focus on the screen. As I sat there with head bowed listening, watching the waterfall running off my cheeks, I realized I was hearing myself sing with an angel.
Ms. Frankie Harris Singing
At the time of the filming, I didn’t even know…but I could have said “No”.
You see, I didn’t have to spend the time sitting with Ms. Frankie in the beginning. I could have easily said I’m too busy, and that “No, sorry but can’t do it”. But I didn’t.
Like my time with Ms. Frankie, we could have easily skipped the special song that Sunday and simply said, “No, don’t think we can do that, we’re just not good enough. But we didn’t.
How many times in our lives had we had the opportunity to do something to honor God, but we found it easier to just reply, “No, sorry, can’t do that now,” so we didn’t?
As I was driving to work the night Denise contacted me to ask me if I wanted to deliver the sermon today, I began thinking to myself about what I would talk about. My first response to her was that I had to work both nights prior to that Sunday and that I had a book signing on Saturday at B&N and would barely get two hours sleep, if that. I pretty much said ‘No”, but in a round-about way. She replied that was ok, she understood. But then as I continued to drive to work, God began to work on me. The scripture from Ephesians came to mind: “Be very careful then how you live, for the days are evil. Make the most of every opportunity.’
The story about Ms. Frankie had been bugging me all week and the fact that I had put off writing it down until now had kept nagging at me until I just about couldn’t take it any longer. You know, that voice that keeps saying to yourself, “When are you going to do it?” Sometimes God can be more demanding than my dear wife with an overdue to-do list. So I began thinking about Ms. Frankie and the fact that I had heard myself singing with an angel, and the question came to me, “How many of us could even recognize an Angel if we were in the same room with one?”
As I drove up 540 toward work, with the question still on my mind, a car drove past me with the license plate that read, “Don’t “No””.
I nearly choked.
At the next traffic light, I messaged Denise back that I would do the sermon since God had just given me one.
“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” – Hebrews 13:2
But it goes beyond that, beyond being able to recognize and Angel in our midst. It goes beyond being able to recognize a Heaven sent sunset. It goes beyond realizing that the newborn child in your arms is the face of God.
The words “know” and “no” are Homonyms; words that sound the same but have different meaning. When I hear homonym it makes me think of an egotistical grit, one who’s head swelled so much even his friends don’t know who he is….but then that would be hominy.
Back to the work “know”
We don’t know:
- The future of Cumnock United Methodist Church
- How the bypass will affect the town
- Then new preacher at Goldston
- The Fracking underneath us
- Will there be new subdivisions pop up from the bypass?
You see, if would put our hope in the world and not in faith, then the unknown becomes scary. There are so many unknowns that we could quickly become overwhelmed and become frozen with fear.
We can’t Know everything.
Yet, we must continue to move on, putting our faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
You see, before we can “know” Him, we have to stop saying “No” to Him.
No matter how many times we say “No” he eventually finds a way for us to “Know” him more. To know him is in a sense to be exposed to him, here then the scripture:
“13 But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. 14 Therefore He says:
“Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.”
15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” Eph 5:13-15
A couple years ago I set out on a journey I had never expected to make. I accepted Christ into my life when I was thirteen, but it was only when I decided to trust in him for everything that the real journey began.
I was in a sense; rising from the dead…Christ was beginning to show me the light.
Eventually I found myself writing a book about a people that not only typified the embodiment of Christ, but also lived Apostelitic lifestyles; amazingly enough, they were my ancestors.
Not only did they keep the Word of God alive for centuries by memorizing it and verbally passing it down from one generation to the next, but they also eventually evangelized to the world, which was against the law of man at that time.
You see, they didn’t live by man’s laws, but rather, they lived by the Word of God. They felt their obligation to faith was to God, not to man.
However, today, do we not find the rules and regulations of the church so daunting, so demanding that at times it clouds the reason for why we even come to these respective institutions to start with? Has man once again placed so many barriers to what God had intended that we are losing sight of what is most important.
Let’s not forget verse 15:
15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”
Satan waits for us to begin questioning our faith, he waits for us to falter and lose sight of what are faith is about. He relishes in our despair and encourages us to stray. He waits for us to become so overwhelmed with the fear of the unknown that we start to accept the lies he tells us.
Other times, we can be a stubborn as an old mule, of which I am guilty as well. Being stubborn and refusing to accept what God asks of us allows Satan to step in and take control.
Satan wishes nothing more than for us to allow him to control our lives.
Sometimes we find animals that seem to embody that very attitude.
There was this farmer named Virgil who once had a mule who he just knew was possessed by the devil himself. One bright spring day, after having returned from town, Virgil put on his new coat and climbed atop his Farm-All A model tractor and happily began tilling up his garden. Not long into his task he realized he had not eaten dinner, so climbing down from the tractor, he took off his coat and placed it on a lever on the side. He knew he wouldn’t need the coat inside the house and besides, it was warming up to be a nice day. Once inside, while sitting at the kitchen table while looking out upon the barn yard, Virgil saw that mean old mule come from behind the barn and walk toward the tractor. For lack of nothing else better to do, Virgil and his son continued to watch the demonic mule as it walked up to the tractor, sniffed Virgil’s coat, then suddenly grabbed the coat and took off running behind the barn. Virgil was so mad, he jumped up from the table and took out after the mule, with his son in tow. They found the old mule behind the barn with the coat still clinched tight by his teeth. They chased that honery mule around and around the barn lot until they were so tuckered out, all they could do was stand with their hands on their hips panting for their breathes. As they stood there winded and exhausted, the old mule walked up before them, a few safe paces away, and dropped the coat on the ground. Virgil took a step toward the coat to pick it up but before he could retrieve his new jacket, the mule stepped on it with a heavy hoof, then with his teeth, reached down and grabbed the edge of the jacket and gave it a mighty yank, ripping Virgil’s brand new coat in half.
Had Virgil not been a God fearing man, the mule would have died that day.
But unlike animals, we and Virgil honor our Father in Heaven by adhering to his Word.
“To know God is to Love God.”
Like those ancient Waldensians, they knew the Word of God and knew that they had to answer to a higher authority than man. At that time, the laws of man condemned owning a Bible or evangelizing the Word of God. Someone found guilty of either was either imprisoned or more often that naught, put to death.
To avoid capture and death, they would hide the written Word in loaves of bread, which they would give to persons to whom they had witnessed. This way, once the Waldensians had departed, their hosts could consume the bread and still have the Word of God to continue to live by.
I try to continue on their legacy in some small way, by telling their story through my writing and speaking. Another part of my ministry is that I also try to continue to spread the written Word; the Bible.
A couple weeks ago I brought several loaves of Ms. Tina’s bread for you. With each loaf you should have found the gospel of John. But today, like those disciples so long ago found, the bread of life, the body of Christ, are perishable. They don’t last forever. Hopefully you ate your bread or shared it with someone who ate it. But like the gift those ancient Waldensians left for their hosts, long after the bread or body was gone, the Word lived on.
Today, we will once again experience receiving the body and blood of Christ through the communion. This will be a special communion for us today, since this will be Linda’s first official communion having recently received her licensing. She will be able to “officially” share the body and blood of Christ with us. Although the physical nature of the act is obvious, we must not forget that it is meant to signify the sacrifice Christ made for our sins and that like the bread and wine, long after they are gone, the spirit within us will live on.
You see, it’s through the Word that we can also receive the spirit. Once we accept the spirit of God into our lives, then we can once again make that spirit a reality; a reality in how we walk each day with Christ.
With the Word, we can become one with the spirit and we can know him.
As Jesus told his disciples:
Luke 24: 36-53 Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, “Peace to you.” 37 But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit. 38 And He said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.”
40 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet.[f] 41 But while they still did not believe for joy, and marveled, He said to them, “Have you any food here?” 42 So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb.[g] 43 And He took it and ate in their presence.
Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” 45 And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.
46 Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise[h] from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 And you are witnesses of these things. 49 Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem[i] until you are endued with power from on high.”
50 And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. 51 Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple praising and[j] blessing God. Amen.[k]
How can you NOT get excited about that!!!
How can we even stand to sit still when God tells us point blank, to know Him until you are endued with the power from on high!!….AMEN!!!
The disciples were guilty as we are today of ignoring the obvious.
Do you know him?
We go through our world, not knowing if there are Angels in our midst, not knowing the sunset before us is Heaven sent, not seeing the face of God in the newborns smile.
You see, before we can “know” Him, we have to stop saying “No” to Him.
We must learn to say to ourselves,
“Don’t say no to know,” or in short…. “Don’t No.”